Women's Studies: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Women's studies is an interdisciplinary academic field which applies a critical theory centered approach to topics concerning women, feminism, gender, and politics. It often includes feminist theory, women's history (e.g. a history of women's suffrage) and social history, women's fiction, women's health, feminist art, feminist psychoanalysis and the feminist and gender studies-influenced practice of most of the humanities and social sciences.



Women's studies was first conceived as an academic rubric apart from other departments in the late 1970s, as the second wave of feminism gained political influence in the academy through student and faculty activism. As an academic discipline, it was modeled on the American studies and ethnic studies (such as Afro-American studies) and Chicano Studies programs that had arisen shortly before it.

The first Women's Studies Program in the United States was established on May 21, 1970 at San Diego State College (now San Diego State University) after a year of intense organizing of women's consciousness raising groups, rallies, petition circulating, and operating unofficial or experimental classes and presentations before seven committees and assemblies.[1] Carol Rowell Council was the student co-founder along with Dr. Joyce Nower, a literature instructor. A second program followed within weeks at Richmond College of the City University of New York (now the College of Staten Island). In the 1970s many universities and colleges created departments and programs in women's studies, and professorships became available in the field which did not require the sponsorship of other departments.

By the late twentieth century, women's studies courses were available at many universities and colleges around the world. A 2007 survey conducted by the National Women's Studies Association[2] included 576 institutions offering women's or gender studies at some level. Currently there are 678 listed in their online searchable database,[3] with 15 institutions offering a Ph.D. in the United States.[4] Courses in the United Kingdom can be found through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.[5]


Women’s studies curriculum often encourages students to engage in hands-on activities, including discussion and reflecting on course materials. Some Women’s Studies courses offer a way of teaching which follows the methodology of pedagogy. Pedagogical teaching involves in-depth participation from both instructor and students of the course. Instead of a classroom setting where the instructor solely gives lectures on the course content, students are encouraged to actively participate.

Often in Women’s studies courses, several different assignments and projects make up the course content. Readings from renowned authors and writers in the field are offered as material in the course content. These authors include Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, among many other authors. Creative projects and group activities are often offered in the curriculum and encourage the students to think “outside the box” in looking at issues in the field.

Women’s studies, like gender studies, employs feminist, queer, and critical theory. Within the past several decades, Women’s Studies has take a post-modern approach to understanding gender and how it intersects with race, class, ethnicity, religion, age, and (dis)ability to produce and maintain power structures within society that ensure social inequality. With this, there has been a focus on language, subjectivity, and social hegemony, and how the lives of subjects, however they identify, are constituted. At the core of these theories is the notion that however one identifies, gender, sex, and sexuality are not intrinsic. In fact, sex, gender, and sexuality are socially constructed.

In order to bring forth a goal of dismantling ideas and forces of oppression globally, Women studies is not limited solely to women issues, but various forms of oppression in which women issues become intricate focal points. The field recognizes that we must be active participants in alleviating all oppressions in order to create a safe space for women and that we have a responsibility to act and advocate on behalf of human rights. This understanding of how oppression influence all aspects of society directs the curriculum towards the recognition and understanding of issues such as racism, classism, homophobia and heteronormative practices, and ableism (Dill & Zambrana, 2009).

Women studies programs are highly involved in social justice and create curriculums that are embedded with theory and also activism outside of the classroom. Some Women Studies programs offer internships that are community-based allowing students the opportunity to gain a better understanding of how oppression directly affects women’s lives. This experience, informed by theory from feminist studies, queer theory, black feminist theory, African studies, and many other theoretical frameworks, allows students the opportunity to critically analyze experience as well as create creative solutions for issues on a local level.

What should not be under-appreciated are the creative arts in women’s studies. Through literature, poetry, performing arts, and visual arts, women’s studies allows for the creative expression and analysis of the oppressing forces that influence the lives of women, while also providing a critical theoretical analysis of these issues.


Methodology is often described as the theory and analysis of how research is conducted, with the method being the technique for gathering evidence (Harding, 1987). Feminist methodology is based in the principles of there is no one feminism, no universal woman (Harding, 1987) and people will interpret research differently based on their own personal background and social identities (Borland, 1991). Research conducted through a feminist lens actively challenges the structures and ideologies that oppress women through incorporating the plurality of women's lived experiences (Brooks & Hesse-Biber, 2007). Feminist methodology also works to construct the indefinable subject and image further possibilities within research (Halse & Honey, 2005). Examples of feminist methodologies include:

  • Feminist empiricism: This approach defines knowledge as what can be experienced and measured by our senses. Research seeks knowledge that benefits the lives of women and accurately represents their experiences, and also supports the “destruction of stereotypes, patriarchal ideologues, and untruths” (Leckenby, 2007, pp 35).
  • Feminist standpoint epistemology: This approach has two main points:
    • researchers see and understand the world through the experiences of oppressed women
    • researchers apply this knowledge of the oppressed women to social activism and social change (Brooks, 2007)
  • Feminist postmodernism and poststructuralism: These theories ask questions about knowledge and knowledge building, reject binary thinking, and work from the standpoint of the social construction of reality. (Leavy, 2007a).

Feminist Methods:

  • In-depth interviewing: Focuses on the lived experiences of the respondent through a variety of interview techniques. Using reflexivity to maintain an awareness of the position of the research and the respondent. (Hess-Biber, 2007)
  • Oral history: This involved the “personal experience of oppression” (154) through deep communication and storytelling (Leavy, 2007b)
  • Focus group interviews: Based on assumptions of the group discussion providing mutuality and support, and the validation of these shared experiences and ideas. (Hyam, 2004)
  • Ethnography: Utilizes a participant observation approach to study social and cultural practices through the immersion of oneself into the culture. This method focuses on women's lives, activities and experiences; feminist theories and ethics; and using a feminist understanding of gender, power and difference to analyze the research (Buch & Staller, 2007)
  • Content analysis: A systematic study of texts and cultural products. Through a grounded theory approach, categories emerge and are not fixed. Using a deconstruction approach, one analyzes what is missing from the texts being studied. (Leavy, 2007c).
  • Survey research: Surveys help to identify patterns and tell the “current state of affairs for women” (Miner-Rubino & Jayaratne, 2007, pp 297)

The feminist approach seeks to recognize and value the multiple intelligences, diverse ways of knowing, and the frequently silenced voices among us. It requires creating a “safe” space that strives to be inclusive and supportive of developing relationships; a space valuing strengths and capacities, while also challenging reflective critical practices that problematize the concepts of power, privilege, and domination that are prevalent in the culture (Lykes & Coquillon, 2006)


Feminist activism not only focuses on women’s issues but has spread throughout many other movements including (but not limited to) environmental issues, body politics, feminist art, identity issues, reproductive rights, gender issues, animal rights, queer rights, and black rights. These forms of activism can include letter writing, boycotting, protesting, the visual arts, bodily demonstrations, education, and leafleting. In current feminism, the focus has shifted to encompass an outlook and desire for equality for all—identifying oppressive systems and forces around the world that affect all types of beings. Feminist activism explores the intersections of social, political, and cultural histories (among various others denominators), their implications, and dedicates time and energy to the liberation of all people from injustices.

Simply studying or being a student of women’s studies can be seen as activism in it of itself. Therefore, for most students of women’s studies, an activism status is already engaged. To foster the growth of the study body, one of the key aspects of women’s studies classes and programs is to connect the classroom to social change. Women’s studies classes and programs focus on power structures, oppression, inequality, and social suffering. Within these categories, women’s studies students learn through a humanistic/multicultural approach, questioning the world we live in and envisioning alternative realities. Learning is through educative experiences, linking the outside world to the classroom. Students are encouraged to bridge their learning and community involvement and take action in the world to foster positive social transformation. Students and feminist activists not only learn about oppression in society but also look at the possibility for a global unity in difference.


Daphne Patai, a professor of Brazilian literature at University of Massachusetts Amherst, has criticized women's studies programs, arguing that they place politics over education:

Many women's-studies programs have allowed the political mission of training feminist cadres to override educational concerns. The strategies of faculty members in these programs have included policing insensitive language, championing research methods deemed congenial to women (such as qualitative over quantitative methods), and conducting classes as if they were therapy sessions.[6]

The editorial board of the Canadian newspaper National Post has argued:

The radical feminism behind these courses has done untold damage to families, our court systems, labour laws, constitutional freedoms and even the ordinary relations between men and women. Women’s Studies courses have taught that all women — or nearly all — are victims and nearly all men are victimizers. Their professors have argued, with some success, that rights should be granted not to individuals alone, but to whole classes of people, too.[7]

See also


  • Borland, K. (1991). That's not what I said: Interpretive conflict in oral narrative research. In Giuck, S. & Patai, D. (Eds.), Women's Words: The Feminist Practice of Oral History (pp 63-76). NY: Routledge
  • Brooks, A. (2007). Feminist standpoint epistemology: Building knowledge and empowerment through women’s lived experiences. In Hesse-Biber, S.N. & Leavy, P.L. (Eds.), Feminist Research Practice (pp. 53-82). CA: Sage Publications.
  • Brooks, A. & Hesse-Biber, S.N. (2007). An invitation to feminist research. In Hesse-Biber, S.N. & Leavy, P.L. (Eds.), Feminist Research Practice (pp. 1-24). CA: Sage Publications.
  • Buch, E.D. & Staller, K.M. (2007). The feminist practice of ethnography. In Hesse-Biber, S.N. & Leavy, P.L. (Eds.), Feminist Research Practice (pp. 187-221). CA: Sage Publications.
  • Dill, T.B & Zambrana, R. (2009) Emerging Intersections: Race, Class and Gender in Theory, Policy and Practice. NJ: Rutgers University Press.
  • Halse, C. & Honey, A. (2005). Unraveling ethics: Illuminating the moral dilemmas of research ethics. Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 30 (4), 2141-2162.
  • Harding, S. (1987). Introduction: Is there a feminist method? In Harding, S. (ed.), Feminism & Methodology. (pp. 1-14). IN: Indiana University Press.
  • Hesse-Biber, S.N. (2007). The practice of feminist in-depth interviewing. In Hesse-Biber, S.N. & Leavy, P.L. (Eds.), Feminist Research Practice (pp. 111-148). CA: Sage Publications.
  • Hyam, M. (2004). Hearing girls' silences: Thoughts on the politics and practices of a feminist method of group discussion. Gender, Place, and Culture, 11 (1), 105-119.
  • Leavy, P.L. (2007a). Feminist postmodernism and poststructuralism. In Hesse-Biber, S.N. & Leavy, P.L. (Eds.), Feminist Research Practice (pp. 83-108). CA: Sage Publications.
  • Leavy, P.L. (2007b). The practice of feminist oral history and focus group interviews. In Hesse-Biber, S.N. & Leavy, P.L. (Eds.), Feminist Research Practice (pp. 149-186). CA: Sage Publications.
  • Leavy, P.L. (2007c). The feminist practice of content analysis. In Hesse-Biber, S.N. & Leavy, P.L. (Eds.), Feminist Research Practice (pp. 223-248). CA: Sage Publications.
  • Leckenby, D. (2007). Feminist empiricism: Challenging gender bias and “setting the record straight.” In Hesse-Biber, S.N. & Leavy, P.L. (Eds.), Feminist Research Practice (pp. 27-52). CA: Sage Publications.
  • Lykes, M.B. & Coquillon, E. (2006). Participatory and Action Research and feminisms: Towards Transformative Praxis. In Sharlene Hesse-Biber (Ed.). Handbook of Feminist Research: Theory and Praxis. CA: Sage Publications.
  • Miner-Rubino, K. & Jayaratne, T.E. (2007). Feminist survey research. In Hesse-Biber, S.N. & Leavy, P.L. (Eds.), Feminist Research Practice (pp. 293-325). CA: Sage Publications.

Further reading

  • Berkin, Carol R., Judith L. Pinch, and Carole S. Appel, Exploring Women's Studies: Looking Forward, Looking Back, 2005, ISBN 0-13-185088-1 . OCLC 57391427. 
  • Boxer, Marilyn J. (1998). When Women ask the Questions: Creating Women's Studies in America. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0801858348. OCLC 37981599. 
  • Carter, Sarah, and Maureen Ritchie (1990). Women's Studies: A Guide to Information Sources. London, England and Jefferson, NC: Mansell and McFarland. ISBN 0720120586. OCLC 20392079. 
  • Committee on Women's Studies in Asia (1995). Changing Lives: Life Stories of Asian Pioneers in Women's Studies. New York, NY: Feminist Press at the City University of New York. ISBN 1558611088. OCLC 31867161. 
  • Davis, Kathy, Mary Evans and Judith Lorber (editors) (2006). Handbook of Gender and Women's Studies. London, England; Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. ISBN 0761943900. OCLC 69392297. 
  • Grewal, Inderpal and Caren Kaplan, An Introduction to Women's Studies: Gender in a Transnational World, ISBN 0-07-109380-X . OCLC 47161269. 
  • Griffin, Gabriele (2005). Doing Women's Studies: Employment Opportunities, Personal Impacts and Social Consequences. London, England: Zed Books in association with the University of Hull and the European Union. ISBN 1842775014. OCLC 56641855. 
  • Ginsberg, Alice E. The Evolution of American Women's Studies: Reflections on Triumphs, Controversies and Change (Palgrave Macmillan: 2009). Online interview with Ginsberg
  • Griffin, Gabriele and Rosi Braidotti (eds.), Thinking Differently : A Reader in European Women's Studies, London etc. : Zed Books, 2002 ISBN 1842770020 . OCLC 49375751. 
  • Howe, Florence (ed.), The Politics of Women's Studies: Testimony from Thirty Founding Mothers, Paperback edition, New York: Feminist Press 2001, ISBN 1-55861-241-6 . OCLC 44313456. 
  • Hunter College Women's Studies Collective (2005). Women's Realities, Women's Choices: An Introduction to Women's Studies (3rd edition ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. ISBN 019515035X. OCLC 55870949. 
  • Jacobs, Sue-Ellen (1974). Women in Perspective: A Guide for Cross-Cultural Studies. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0252002997. OCLC 1050797. 
  • Kennedy, Elizabeth Lapovsky and Agatha Beins (2005). Women's Studies for the Future: Foundations, Interrogations, Politics. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0813536189. OCLC 56951279. 
  • Krikos, Linda A. and Cindy Ingold (2004). Women's Studies: A Recommended Bibliography (3rd edition ed.). Westport, CN: Libraries Unlimited. ISBN 1563085666. OCLC 54079621. 
  • Larson, Andrea and R. Edward Freeman (1997). Women's Studies and Business Ethics: Toward a New Conversation. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195107586. OCLC 35762696. 
  • Loeb, Catherine, Susan E. Searing, and Esther F. Lanigan (1987). Women's Studies: A Recommended Core Bibliography, 1980-1985. Littleton, CO: Libraries Unlimited. ISBN 0872874729. OCLC 14716751. 
  • Luebke, Barbara F. and Mary Ellen Reilly (1995). Women's Studies Graduates: The First Generation. New York, NY: Teachers College Press, Teachers College, Columbia University. ISBN 0807762741. OCLC 31076831. 
  • MacNabb, Elizabeth L. (2001). Transforming the Disciplines: A Women's Studies Primer. New York, NY: Haworth Press. ISBN 156023959X. OCLC 44118091. 
  • Messer-Davidow, Ellen, Disciplining Feminism : From Social Activism to Academic Discourse, Durham, NC etc. : Duke University Press, 2002 ISBN 0822328291 . OCLC 47705543. 
  • Patai, Daphne and Noretta Koertge (2003). Professing Feminism: Education and Indoctrination in Women's Studies (New and Expanded edition ed.). Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. ISBN 0739104543. OCLC 50228164. 
  • Rao, Aruna (1991). Women's Studies International: Nairobi and Beyond. New York, NY: Feminist Press at the City University of New York. ISBN 1558610316. OCLC 22490140. 
  • Rogers, Mary F. and C. D. Garrett (2002). Who's Afraid of Women's Studies?: Feminisms in Everyday Life. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press. ISBN 0759101736. OCLC 50530054. 
  • Rosenberg, Roberta (2001). Women's Studies: An Interdisciplinary Anthology. New York, NY: Peter Lang. ISBN 082044443X. OCLC 45115816. 
  • Ruth, Sheila, Issues In Feminism: An Introduction to Women's Studies, 2000, ISBN 0-7674-1644-9 . OCLC 43978372. 
  • Simien, Evelyn M. (2007). "Black Feminist Theory: Charting a Course for Black Women's Studies in Political Science". in Kristin Waters and Carol B. Conaway. Black Women's Intellectual Traditions: Speaking their Minds. Burlington, VT and Hanover, NH: University of Vermont Press and the University Press of New England. ISBN 9781584656333. OCLC 76140356. 
  • Tierney, Helen (1989-1991). Women's Studies Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0313246467. OCLC 18779445. 
  • Wiegman, Robyn (editor), Women's Studies on Its Own: A Next Wave Reader in Institutional Change, Duke University Press, 2002. ISBN 0822329506 . OCLC 49421587. 

External links

Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Topic:Women's studies article)

From Wikiversity


Part of Social Sciences


Introduction and Descripton

Welcome to Wikiversity's Department of Women's Studies

Hello! The Wikiversity Department of Women's Studies has just been founded. If you are knowledgable about any of the topics listed below, or about other Women's Studies topics, your help would be extremely appreciated if you make a contribution.

Please do not delete learning projects. Instead, try to add a project if you would like it to be offered or if you would like to offer it.

Learning Resources

Where are the courses?
Waiting for you to create one. Wikiversity is a developing project, and depends on its contributors (anyone can contribute) for its content. Whether you call it a "course" or a "learning project", you can organize it here. Courses/Learning projects can be organised from a new "Topic" page, or directly in the Main namespace (ie without any prefix). We encourage you to take the initiative and add your materials here!
Follow these links to learn how: Intro to Learning Projects • The Main Learning Projects Page • Credentials, diplomas & provenance • Policies • Learning • Education

Undergraduate Level - Core Courses

  • WIKI 1001 - Introduction to Wiki AND
  • WMST 2031 - Women in Perspective OR
  • WMST 2033 - International Perspectives on Women AND
  • WMST 3037 - Feminist Theory


Please Choose Any Section Below:

Multiculturalism and Diversity

  • WMST 2033 International Perspectives on Women OR
  • WMST 3070 Topics in Women’s Studies: Women of Color
  • WMST 3021 Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective
  • WMST 3053 Latinas in the Americas
  • WMST 3047 World Literature: African Women Writers
  • WMST 4077 Topics in Black American Literature: African-American Women Writers
  • WMST 3061 Gays and Lesbians in U.S. History
  • WMST 3070 Queer Studies
  • WMST 3084 Life Histories of African Women
  • WMST 2004 Race, Class and Gender
  • WMST 2005 Women in World Religions
  • PSYC 4049 Psychology of Lesbian Culture
  • SOCI 2043 Sociology of Race, Class and Gender

Suggested tracks

Nature; Science

Suggested courses for this track:

  • Reproductive Technologies and the Future of Motherhood
  • Biology of Women
  • Economic Issues of Gender
  • Women’s Health
  • Perspectives on Rape and Sexual Assault
  • Women, Gender and Science
  • Women, Society and Radiation
  • The American Woman in Sport
  • Special Topics: Women and Law
  • Sex Differences: Psychological Perspectives
  • Gender Identity in Transition
  • Special Topics: Psychology of Women
  • Issues in Domestic Violence
  • Women and Crime

Arts and Humanities

Suggested courses for this track:

  • Women in Art
  • Identity and Culture: Gender and Media in Global Perspective
  • Women and Gender in Film
  • Honors Seminar in Literature: Emily Dickinson
  • Honors Seminar in Literature: Austen and the Brontes
  • Film and Literature: Austen/Shelley/Hollywood
  • Special Topics: Literature of Women
  • Women Writers
  • Voices of Medieval Women
  • Topics in British Literature: Virginia Woolf
  • Topics in World Literature: African-American Writers
  • Topics in World Literature: Black Women Writers
  • Topics in British Literature: Unfortunate Women
  • Women in 20th Century U.S. History
  • Comparative History of the Modern Family: 1750-Present
  • Historical Themes: Women in Ancient Greece
  • Historical Themes: Modern European Women
  • Historical Themes: African-American Women in History
  • Women in Western Music
  • Feminist Philosophy
  • Philosophical Topics: Simone de Beauvoir
  • Hispanic Popular Cultures: Mexican Cultural Symbols: La Malinche, La Virgen de Guadalupe and La Llorona
  • Special Topics: Latin American Women Writers


Suggested courses for this track:

  • Themes and Issues in Women’s Studies
  • Women’s Culture and Creativity
  • Women’s Words, Women’s Lives
  • Women, Work and Family
  • Women and Medicine
  • Women and Sexuality
  • Women and Aging
  • Topics in Women’s Studies: Gender, Development and Globalization
  • Topics in Women’s Studies: Women, the Environment and Health
  • Seminar in Women’s Studies
  • Directed Readings for Honors in Women’s Studies
  • Directed Readings for Women’s Studies
  • Internship in Women’s Studies
  • Honors Thesis

Active participants

The histories of Wikiversity pages indicate who the active participants are. If you are an active participant in this department, you can list your name here (this can help small departments grow and the participants communicate better).

  • mehmetaergun 16:32, 19 October 2006 (UTC)




External resources

  • Women's Studies Resources at the University of Iowa - This site, in continuous operation since 1996, features the following annotated links pages: Activism, Art, Communication and Media, Development - WID, Feminist Theory, General or Mixed Indexes & Searches, History, Literature, Music and Sports. Not connected to the U. Iowa Women's Studies Department.
  • Women's Studies Email List (WMST-L) - WMST-L is an international electronic forum for people involved in Women's Studies as teachers, researchers, librarians, and/or program administrators. It offers a rapid and cost-free way for participants to ask questions and exchange information about the academic side of Women's Studies: current research, teaching strategies, useful texts and films, online resources, innovative courses, building Women's Studies majors, minors, and graduate programs, and other academic issues. WMST-L also welcomes announcements about relevant conferences, calls for papers, job opportunities, publications, and the like.
  • WMST-L's online collection of files related to Women's Studies.
  • Women's Studies/Women's Issues Resource Sites - A frequently-updated, annotated, selective set of more than 700 links to sites offering resources and information about women's studies and/or women's issues. Includes 16 topical subsections, such as Activism, Arts and Humanities, Health, Cyberculture and Internet Information, Science and Technology, Sexuality and Sexual Orientation, Women of Color, and more.
  • Women's Studies Programs Worldwide - Approximately 700 listings in the US and around the world. Annotations identify programs offering graduate degrees or certificates. Frequently updated.
  • Gender-Related Electronic Forums - A frequently-updated listing and description of more than 600 e-mail lists that focus on women- or gender-related issues. Includes 16 topical subsections, such as Activism, Arts and Humanities, Business, Health, Motherhood, Religion and Spirituality, Science and Technology, Sports and Recreation, Sexuality and Sexual Orientation, Women of Color, and more.
  • Center for Women and Information Technology - ABCNews.com has called this site "the best resource on women and technology on the Web." The site offers information, news, resources, and initiatives that address women's use of information technology [IT] and their under-representation in the IT workforce. Includes a very large collection of web-based women- and gender-related syllabi and information about financial aid for women including women not in IT.
  • Linux Chix - LinuxChix is a community for women who like Linux, and for women and men who want to support women in computing.
  • Debian Women, founded in May 2004, seeks to balance and diversify the Debian Project (a major Linux distribution) by actively engaging with interested women and encouraging them to become more involved with Debian.
  • Ubuntu Women is a team functioning under Ubuntu (a major Linux distribution) to provide a platform and encouragement for women to contribute to Ubuntu-Linux, a Debian based free and open-source GNU/Linux software.
  • Heterosexuality Questionnaire that makes one think about how heterosexuality is taken for granted.

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